Coffey: Mays-Newcombe 1955 barnstorming tour set records, broke barriers

From Alex Coffey at on May 29, 2018:

On Oct. 16, 1955, Asheville Citizen Times reporter Mal Mallette arrived at McCormick Field for what should’ve been a relatively routine assignment. Mallette was tasked with a story on an upcoming exhibition game between Sherm Lollar’s barnstorming All-Stars and a local team based in Buncombe County.

What he found instead was a stadium filled to one-fifth of its capacity, and a very unamused Gene Woodling.

“I’m sure glad we’re working mostly on guarantees, or else we wouldn’t make enough to buy peanuts,” quipped the Cleveland Indians’ left fielder. “We haven’t had but a couple of good crowds. In the two places where we were working on a percentage basis, I think our takes were eight and 40 dollars.”

Hoping for higher attendance in Greensboro, the All-Stars took their chances against the Carolina League All-Stars. They lost, in front of a crowd of 221. In response, sportswriter Earle Hellen of the Greensboro Record proclaimed that “barnstorming’s dead around here.”

Hellen’s statement might’ve held true, if the “Say Hey” Kid hadn’t come to town. A mere two days after Lollar’s All-Stars played in McCormick, the Mays-Newcombe All-Stars took the field, nearly packing the ballpark.

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Originally published: May 29, 2018. Last Updated: May 29, 2018.